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Looking East

26 September 2023

Louise Burr won a scholarship in 2019, studying at the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice

Passion for Central and Eastern Europe offers new experiences for students

History students at Cardiff are benefitting from a growing specialism in Central and Eastern Europe and a focus on Czechoslovak history.

Undergraduates have enjoyed an enriching experience of living in the Czech Republic and learning Czech since 2019 thanks to the specialisms within the field of history at Cardiff and a global scholarship offered by the Czech Republic.

In total, ten Cardiff History students have won full scholarships to take part in Slavonic Studies (Czech Language) Summer Schools across the Czech Republic, with one or more scholarships offered to Cardiff students each year since the link started.

The Czech Summer School experience is genuinely international, with lifelong friendships formed. Alongside Wales, students come from across the globe from as far afield as Albania, Bulgaria and Columbia to Taiwan, Vietnam, the USA and many other countries.

The Czech Ministry of Education scholarships enable students with a particular interest in the history of this part of Europe to make more of their degree studies, by studying the language and in turn opening up first-hand sources. The opportunity to improve written and spoken Czech in this way is also open to postgraduate students in Czechoslovak history at Cardiff University.

The generous scholarships provide for 4 weeks at a Czech university where recipients intensively study the language and are immersed in Czech history and culture through a series of activities and excursions. They cover all meals, accommodation, excursion, tuition fees, books and materials with insurance and travel costs to and from Czechia the only exceptions.

Cardiff University experts across disciplines are part of its Central and East European Research Centre, which includes historians Professor Mary Heimann, Dr Tetyana Pavlush, Dr James Ryan, Professor of Law Jiri Priban, Visiting Professor of International Relations Sergey Radchenko and many others.

A bespoke Czechoslovak Special Collection, including rare publications such as works by the wartime provisional Czechoslovak government in London, political show trial transcripts, as well as unpublished dissertations and theses by Cardiff students, is now also hosted at the University.

Thanks to expertise in Czechoslovak history at Cardiff, history students at undergraduate and postgraduate level can benefit from additional partnerships with the Czech National Archive and the Czech National Library.

Exchange partnerships with Charles University in Prague and Comenius University in Bratislava offer further opportunities to students to study in the two republics.

Eminent historian Professor Mary Heimann is author of the landmark book Czechoslovakia The State That Failed. At Cardiff she has curated both Generation89: Witnessing the Velvet Revolution 30 years on, bringing together history makers to recall the Czechoslovak revolution and the end of the Communist regime at the Temple of Peace and Czechoslovakia 100 marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak state.

Professor Heimann said:

“Since the UK left the European Union it has felt all the more important to ensure that students at Cardiff have the opportunity to spend time abroad, immersing themselves in a foreign language and culture different from their own.  This is perhaps an especially valuable experience for History students, since the skills they need to understand the past are similar to those needed to acclimatise to a foreign country and think in a foreign language.”

Leah Pickett shared her experience of her 2019-2020 exchange year at Charles University in Prague in a University Globetrotters blog.

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